iPhone’s latest productivity tools

“iPhone with yellow cover hanging on air” by Vinicius Amano on Unsplash

In 2017, I upgraded to the iPhone 7. This is the third iPhone I’ve owned and providing Apple don’t screw it up, I’ll stick with them. It’s just so simple to move your data when you get a new phone — different on the outside, same comfortable setup on the inside.

As much as I’d love to be an early adopter, holding every newly released model in my hot little hands… the price tag gives me heart palpitations!

Lucky for me (and my bank account), Apple does a fantastic job of providing new software options to everyone — not just the latest models.

In a recent upgrade to iOS 12, Apple has acknowledged increasing community concerns about our collective screen time and developed some smart solutions to our problems.

Here’s one new and another not-so-new iPhone app designed to reduce screen time and distractions, allowing us to skyrocket productivity.

NEW APP — Screen time

Find it → Settings > Screen Time

  • Screen time tracking

As the name suggests, this part of the app tracks the amount of time your screen is in use. It gives you an exact breakdown of how many minutes you’ve spent using each app which you can view for today or the last 7 days. This app also calculates your average phone usage and identifies whether you’re tracking above or below average usage for the current day.

  • Pickups

Ever wondered how many times per day you pick up your phone? Wonder no longer, as iOs 12 allows you to see an up to date count in the ‘screen time’ section.

  • Categories

Your screen time reading is also broken down into categories so you can easily identify how you’re spending your screen time. Categories include social networking, games, entertainment, productivity and many more.

The only negative I’ve noticed is you’re unable to choose which app fits in which category. Plus, in order to view the category an individual app, you have to navigate to the app within today’s screen time recordings.

  • Downtime

Downtime allows you to set limits on the hours you can use certain apps. I have most apps limited between 10 pm and 10 am.

You can choose which apps you’d like to be available all the time. I have apps I use for writing set to ‘available’ because, like today, I sometimes write on my phone. I also record post ideas on Trello whenever they come to me, so I leave this available at all times too.

  • App limits

This section allows you to set app limits, however, the name is quite misleading. Unfortunately, in this section, you can only set limits per category. It is possible to set limits for individual apps, but again, you can only do this through navigating to the app information via today’s screen time recordings.

  • Content & privacy restrictions

If you’re a parent who regularly hands your phone to the kids to play, now you have the option to set content and privacy restrictions.

  • Notifications

Ever wondered how many notifications you get each day? With iOS 12, you can find out.

OLD FAVOURITE — Do not disturb

Find it → Settings > Do Not Disturb

I’ve used the do not disturb app for a few years now. I started when I worked in a gym and would have clients text me at ungodly hours of the morning, mostly being woken up by cancellations (frustrating!) Working 12 hours a day, I couldn’t afford to have broken sleep, so I used the do not disturb app to protect my sleep time.

Since moving to the UK this app has become even more important to me. I no longer work 12 hours days, but I do value my sleep. Unfortunately, when I’m asleep, most of my Australian contacts are awake. I know how often I forget and text friends at home in the middle of the night. My friends return the favour.

My ‘do not disturb’ hours are from 10 pm to 7 am. Within that time I receive no notifications at all. The exception being phone calls from my ‘favourite contacts’. So in an emergency, for example, my family will always be able to get through regardless of the hour.

Call to Action

These apps are not a perfect solution as all phone use is a choice. But opening my phone to see a plethora of greyed out icons is often enough of a barrier to opening apps. Plus, not being woken by notifications in the middle removes the temptation to check my phone when I get a message.

So, if you have an iPhone and you’re struggling with your screen time and notifications, try using these apps to monitor and control your phone usage.